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Boyd Tinsley abandons his violin

Emily Tumbrink | Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Boyd Tinsley, well known for his contributions as the violinist for the Dave Matthews Band, became the first member of the band to release a solo album on June 17, 2003, beating Dave Matthews by a matter of months.

True Reflections, the title of Tinsley’s album, was named after a song he wrote in the 1990s that has now become a concert staple of the Dave Matthews Band, though it has never been released on a studio album. Tinsley has included this song on his own album, with Dave Matthews providing back-up vocals just as he does during live performances of the song. However, listeners expecting other aspects of Tinsley’s album to be comparable to the work he does for the Dave Matthews Band will be disappointed by his solo release.

Tinsley, trained as a classical violinist, neglects to showcase his greatest talent on True Reflections. Listed as providing the lead violin on only four of 11 tracks, Tinsley instead focuses his energy on songwriting and providing vocals, two things at which he is not very skilled. Tinsley’s voice is not very strong, and his lyrics are even weaker. Though it must be said that the lyrics of the well-known song “True Reflections” are clichéd, these lyrics seem far deeper than any of the other song lyrics included on this album.

“All the lyrics were written after thinking about what’s important in life, what I appreciate about life. So the songs are basically about love and relationships,” Tinsley told VH1.

Unfortunately, Tinsley does not provide any interesting insights into these common lyrical themes. Perhaps the best example of this comes on the cringe-worthy track titled “Perfect World,” which Tinsley says was written for his two children as an attempt to explain the concept of war. Alas, Tinsley’s treatment of this serious theme will leave even children saying “duh” by the end of the track. With lyrics like “It’s not a perfect world, / I don’t want to lie. / Sometimes it makes me laugh, / Sometimes it makes me cry. / I’m beginning to wonder why, / I won’t tell no lies. / I just don’t know why, / No matter how I try, / I wonder why,” “Perfect World” is so completely uninspiring that it leaves listeners wondering why Tinsley ever thought he was a songwriter.

Although it is admirable that Tinsley had the courage to release his own material knowing that it would be compared to the work of the ever-popular Dave Matthews Band, this album might have been better left unreleased. Tinsley should have focused more on what he is good at, namely playing a mean fiddle, instead of trying to fit the role of singer/songwriter. By relying on a slew of guest artists to provide the instrumentation, Tinsley completely misses what should have been the point of his album. Hopefully, Tinsley will realize where his talents lie and release an amazing instrumental album, one that can redeem his listeners’ opinion of him.